Vulnerable patients have limited access to ACO physicians: 5 notes

Health Affairs published a study finding vulnerable populations have less access to physicians participating in accountable care organizations than patients in affluent communities, according to Medscape Multispecialty.

Researchers used a telephone-verified database of 521,543 U.S. office-based physicians about participation in public or commercial ACOs. In various hospital referral regions, researchers noted physicians' participation in Medicare ACOs and commercial ACOS differed from almost 0 percent to more than 85 percent.

Here are five notes:

1. The study found physicians' ACO participation was inversely linked to the percentage of the population that were insured, living in poverty, black or disabled.

2. Black population levels were the strongest indicator of ACO participation, with 30.8 percent of all physicians participating in an ACO in areas with the lowest quartile of black population, as opposed to 22.9 percent of physicians participating in an ACO in areas the with the highest quartile of black population.

3. Researchers found Hispanic population levels did not consistently predict ACO physician participation rates.

4. Based on the findings, researchers advise policy interventions such as offering incentives to physicians participating in ACOs in less affluent areas.

5. Researchers concluded, "Our results suggest that vulnerable patients have less access to physicians who participate in ACOs and thus less access to the potential benefits of ACOs, compared to other patients."

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